Lions top Kidder County to reach District 6 title game
The Lions (16-4) advanced to the District 6 Tournament title game for the 14th straight season, while Kidder County, which was seeking its first trip to the district championship game since 2010, dropped to 10-11 on the season, but the Pirates remained alive for a berth in the Region 3 Tournament.
Kidder County held the lead for most of the opening period, and Linton-HMB’s only lead of the quarter came at 7-6 after Jon Purintun sank a pair of free throws at the 3:21 mark. The Lions hit just 2 of 10 field goals in the quarter, but Kidder County turned the ball over 8 times in the frame and held just a 10-9 edge at the end of the quarter.
The lead changed hands three times over the first minute of the second period, but Ryan Schneider’s basket capped a 7-2 spurt that gave Linton-HMB its biggest lead (18-14) of the quarter with 5:40 left. However, Linton-HMB went scoreless for nearly 2:30 after that, and a pair of baskets by Jordan Leier deadlocked the score at 18-18 with 3:30 left. About a minute later, Andrew Small gave Linton-HMB a 23-20 lead with a three-pointer, but the Lions wouldn’t score again in the half, and Kidder County closed out the period with a 6-0 run, including Ben Steinolfson’s putback at the buzzer, for a 26-23 halftime lead.
Kidder County connected on half (13 of 26) of its free throw attempts and held a commanding, 21-9 advantage in rebounds in the first half, but the Pirates missed on their only two free throw attempts and committed 13 turnovers in the half. Linton-HMB shot just 34 percent (8 of 23) from the floor, but the Lions sank 6 of 9 free throws in the half. Cole Scherbenske netted 10 points, while Leier and Steinolfson scored 6 points apiece for Kidder County. Six players got in the scoring column for Linton-HMB in the first half, led by Brooks Flyberg with 7 points.
Scherbenske’s basket on the opening possession of the second half gave Kidder County its biggest lead (28-23) of the game, but the Pirates misfired on 8 of their final 9 field goal attempts of the period, and Linton-HMB closed out the quarter with a 16-5 run to move back into the lead for good. Tyler Humann started the run with a triple on the next trip, and Schneider added a pair of free throws to knot the score at 28-28 with 6:43 left.
Ryan Sand’s three-point play off an offensive board put Kidder County back on top (31-28), and Walker Brandt answered a basket by Mason Ryckman with a pair of free throws for a 33-30 Pirate lead with 5:14 left in the period. However, those would be the final points of the quarter for Kidder County, and Linton-HMB scored 9 uanswered points over the final 4:05 of the quarter to regain the lead for good. Purintun’s three-pointer in the final minute of the quarter capped the run, and the Lions took a 39-33 advantage into the final stanza.
Both teams played through some foul trouble in the final quarter, which saw the momentum shift several times in the 8-minute span. Schneider’s basket on the first possession of the quarter capped an 11-0 run that gave Linton-HMB its biggest lead (41-33) of the game, and after Zach Six put in a basket on the other end to stop a 6:00 scoring drought by Kidder County, Schneider added another field goal for a 43- 35 lead with 7:20 left in the game.
Baskets by Steinolfson and Leier over the next 2:00 cut the margin in half (43-39), but Flyberg drained a threepointer to extend the lead to 48-41 with just over 3:00 left. That, however, would be the final field goal of the game for Linton-HMB, and the Lions went scoreless for nearly 2:00 after that. Kidder County, meanwhile, snuck back into the game by getting a field goal from Scherbenske about a half a minute later, and then another by Leier at the 1:28 mark to cut the lead to 48-45.
Kidder County then decided to put Linton-HMB on the free throw line the rest of the way, and the tactic was somewhat successful, as the Lions made good on just 6 of 12 free throws over the final 1:23, including a pair of misses on the front end of bonus situations. A missed free throw by Linton-HMB gave Kidder County a chance to at least cut further into the lead, but the Pirates misfired on a short-range attempt, and Purintun sank a pair of free throws on the other end for a 50-45 lead with 1:09 remaining.
After another Pirate misfire, and another missed free throw by Linton-HMB, Sand put in a field goal with :50 left to cut the lead to 50-47, and the Pirates got the ball right back when Linton-HMB was whistled for a 5-second violation. Kidder County missed a three-point attempt to tie, but Steinolfson was fouled on the rebound, and he proceeded to make 1 of 2 free throws to cut the margin to 50-48 with :45 left.
After Purintun hit 1 of 2 free tosses on the ensuing trip, Kidder County turned the ball over, and Schneider sank two free throws to make it a twopossession (53-48) lead with :26 remaining, fouling out Scherbenske in the process. Sand was fouled attempting a three-pointer, and made 2 of 3 free throws to cut the lead to 53-50 with :15 left, and after Ryckman misfired on two free throws with :14 left, Kidder County came down with one last chance to tie the game.
The Pirates worked the ball around until Jayden Miller fired up a three-pointer from the left wing that missed its mark. Schneider came away with the rebound for Linton-HMB, and got the ball to Purintun, who was fouled with just :01.7 left on the clock. Purintun put in the first shot to close out the scoring and seal up the victory for the Lions.
Linton-HMB hit 10 of 20 (50%) field goals and 8 of 14 (57%) free throws in the second half to finish at 42 percent (18 of 43) from the floor (4 three-pointers) and 61 percent (14 of 23) from the line. Kidder County cooled off in the second half, hitting just 9 of 26 (35%) field goals, and the Pirates also finished at 42 percent (22 of 52) from the field, and sank 6 of 10 free throws in the game. The Pirates also misfired on all 8 of their attempts from threepoint range, and they turned the ball over 19 times. Kidder County ended up with a 34-28 advantage in rebounds, but Linton-HMB held a 19-13 margin on the boards over the final two quarters.
Schneider scored a dozen points in the second half and finished with game-highs in points (17), rebounds (12) and steals (5), while Purintun (11 pts., 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals) and Flyberg (10 pts., 4 rebounds, 2 steals) also scored in double figures for Linton-HMB. Ryckman added 8 points, 7 rebounds and a pair of assists, and Humann chipped in 5 points and 2 assists for the Lions. Scherbenske paced Kidder County with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Leier netted 10 points, and Sand and Steinolfson chipped in 9 points apiece for the Pirates.
Kidder County: Cole Scherbenske 16, Jordan Leier 10, Ryan Sand 9, Ben Steinolfson 9, Walker Brandt 4, Zach Six 2.
Linton-HMB: Ryan Schneider 17, Jon Purintun 11, Brooks Flyberg 10, Mason Ryckman 8, Tyler Humann 5, Andrew Small 3.
3-Pointers: Kidder County (0- 8), Linton-HMB (4-13): Flyberg 2, Humann 1, Small 1. Fouled Out: Scherbenske (KC).